Friday, May 23, 2014

Jerzy Popieluszko: Religion and Geography

Jerzy Popieluszko: The Messenger of the Truth has one of the most suspenseful climaxes for a documentary I have ever seen.  The film is about a Polish priest who sets out to remind Poles about their natural rights as workers and humans.  His struggle shows the dark side of utopian visions such as Communism due to its disconnectedness with natural law and the world.  I strongly recommend this film.

Several factors make Father Popieluszko's effort note worthy to even secularists (or geographers disconnected to religious issues) and play key roles in the documentary:

The Papal Effect was Only the Beginning: 1980s Poland was revolutionized by the Polish pope, Saint John Paul II.  John Paul's election and visit to Poland allowed for the popular culture to come out of forced hiding due to Communist rule.  However, after a week the pope went back to Rome.  The labor union Solidarity and its chaplain, Popieluszko, seized the momentum the pope started.  The union united not only blue collar Poles but also academics and rural populations in making a popular culture peaceful resistance.

Communism - A "Vanguard" is not the People: Solidarity was an independent labor union and that scared the "Workers of the World, Unite" Communist Party of Poland.  Communist and major leftist movements had long moved past any serious care for the worker.  Solidarity's goals were laborist, not leftist, and that scared the party.

Faith is dangerous, it's why Caiaphas killed Jesus: There is a reason why Poland crackdown on Catholicism after the rise of Solidarity.  It is the same reason the People's Republic of China bans independent Christianity and why Caiaphas killed Jesus.  When an authoritarian regime encounters someone claiming there is a "universal truth" above the party/regime/king then the regime is shown to be limited.  It must either strike out or fold, there is no middle ground.

The documentary is well done and the narration by Martin Sheen sets a professional tone.  Clocking in at about 90 minutes this film is best viewed in one sitting but I recommend parental guidance before letting children watch it. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Succeed in Business with a Degree in Geography

Justin Holman linked to an article by Dr. James Chan about how to succeed in business with a geography degree.  Here are key points I really enjoyed

How much is your success in consulting related to your degrees in geography? I apply what I know about Chinese geography and cultural geography to day-to-day problems in business. I’ve worked with more than 100 U.S. manufacturers, trade associations, and service organizations. Businesses need people with geographical and cross-cultural knowledge.
Could you give an example of how you applied geography to a business problem? A company spent $1,000,000 on postage each year to mail catalogs worldwide. I looked at its bloated mailing list and found that there were many duplicate records. This means that quite a number of people received multiple copies of marketing materials. Many names on the list were misspelled and out-of-date. I surveyed our worldwide customer base and eliminated duplication and waste. Management was very happy because I reduced their costs.
What advice would you give to someone with a geography degree about succeeding in business? Start at an entry level and learn a business. Geography is not a trade. It is an academic discipline. Once you know enough of a business, you can apply your unique training as a geographer to look at things in a way that people trained in other disciplines may not come up with. This is how you differentiate yourself and become competitive. Few businesses pay us to teach them geography. They just want us to solve their problems and get things done. It’s up to us to invent ourselves.